SYLVIA MCCRORY JULY 2020
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8 (NIV)
There are many more temptations for drug use of children, than ever before. With the popularity of YouTube and TikTok, children can view more ways to get high than ever. They can learn how to make their own drugs, using products found around the house. The reason I mention this is because I think we as parents, and as a society need to understand what children are up against. If we take time to remember back to our own childhoods, we will, no doubt, recall making unwise decisions. We cannot prevent all their bad choices, but I think we can help to educate them on the consequences of these choices.
What Drives Children to Use Alcohol or Drugs?
Perhaps the biggest reason children use drugs is due to peer pressure. It is extremely difficult for a young person to turn down drugs or alcohol when surrounded by others their age daring them or attempting to make fun of them for not participating.
Peer pressure many times comes from a party setting. It may also include a dare or a “bet” for a child to “just try it”, “don’t be lame”, or “don’t be a baby”. Please understand once children reach the tween or teen years, peers are the most important influence in their lives. This is the time children have a need to “fit in” and be a part of a group. Parents are relegated to being too old to understand their life.
To combat peer pressure—start when children are very young, surround them with friends you know, from families you know well. Do not be concerned if your child is not part of the popular crowd. Being popular is rarely important and sometimes comes at a high price. Involve them in church activities with children their age. Allow children to have parties and friends to your home. Invite your children’s Sunday School class or youth group to meet at your home. Make your home inviting for children.
Another reason children use drugs is the way it is glamorized on the movie screens and in popular songs. It is portrayed as a wonderful feeling or high in songs, music videos and movies. Children sometimes believe these images or songs, thinking
life is fun when using drugs. Or some will believe drug use is a part of growing up. They think they will be more adult if they use drugs. Children may try to imitate every detail of their role model, or character on screen, including drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. While some may see drugs as segway to fun and adventure.
We cannot know all the movies, songs, and role models our children are exposed to, but we can have conversations about the impact of drugs. We can share with them information about famous people who have destroyed their lives and families because of drug abuse. Keep conversations open, listen to your children and their ideas. Be the person they can turn to for advice. Be careful not to overreact. If they trust you, they will confide in you more.
Unfortunately, many children begin using drugs because they see it in their own families. Some children may see parents drinking every evening and want to copy it, or they may see them abusing prescription drugs. Parents need to be aware that children will imitate them more than they will listen to them. If children see parents drinking or smoking to relax, they want to do the same. If they see parents using drugs for stress, they will do that too. And if they see parents using drugs in social situations, they will copy that. Perhaps, they have a close relative who is using drugs, they may want to copy the behavior of an older relative.
I am not going to begin to suggest how parents should live. I only want parents to be aware of the influence you have through your lifestyle.
The last reason I am going to mention today, although there are probably many more reasons, is curiosity and escape. Today children are experiencing more depression and anxiety than ever before. Often, they will turn to drugs as a method to escape the stress and anxiety they are
feeling. They are curious to discover if drugs make them feel better, even for a short period of time.
Even though some suggestions have been included to attempt to avoid drug use, do NOT hesitate to get help if you think your children are involved with drugs. There is no shame or stigma associated with children making bad choices. Remember, we all have made bad choices. Drug abuse has no social status, it has no income status, or location status. Drug abuse can affect any child, in any home. Today children have access to way too many temptations and risks. I cannot encourage all parents to reach out to experts for treatment and counseling when needed. Do not play any “blame game” with your children or yourself. God is our example of loving us unconditionally, love your children unconditionally. They need you the most when they mess up.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
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